Friday, October 17, 2008

Upcoming Active Transportation Proposal

This coming Monday, October 20, 2008, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy will release to Congress "Active Transportation for America", a report calling for a greater federal investment in walking and biking. Rails to Trails is seeking an expansion of "Non-Motorized Pilot Program" under the Transportation Bill to "dozens more communities and attract a level of investment sufficient to enable active transportation to play a significantly larger role in meeting America's mobility needs." Rails to Trails is spearheading this effort under its 2010 Campaign for Active Transportation.

Also on Monday, over 40 cities and towns across the country will release their "active transportation" case statements, in which they present plans for how they will make their communities safe for increased bicycling and walking. Municipal, county and state transportation and planning departments teamed up development corporations and community groups to prepare these plans.

Camden and northern Delaware (Newark, Wilmington and New Castle County) are two communities in the Delaware Valley that prepared case statements. Altoona and Blair County, was the only PA community to prepare one. (We're not sure where PennDOT or the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission was on this effort, but obviously, it wasn't a priority).

The fact that Chicago, Seattle, Washington DC, Baltimore, Twin Cities, Portland Ore., New Orleans and San Diego all prepared statements speaks volumes about how much work Philadelphia needs to do to catch up with other major cities in developing a cohesive vision for how it will transform itself into a safer place to bike and walk. This underscores the importance of the planning process underway by the City Planning Commission to develop a Bicycle/Pedestrian Plan by 2010, which will propose how to close the gaps in the bike lane network, to improve pedestrian connections and to update bicycling and pedestrian ordinances and policies. The Bicycle Coalition sits on the Plan's Steering Committee and is also working to identify and promote important projects for funding in the next federal Transportation bill.